Quality Service Makes Good Cents

Ask any business owner about customer service and satisfaction and most will admit that it’s critical to their overall success and profitability. Ask them what they DO to insure their team consistently delivers quality service and the answers are vague or in some cases they simply shrug and say ‘not much’. 

While customer satisfaction is important, it also makes great CENTS to improve it. 

Here are a just a few things to consider:

  • loyal customers spend more and buy more frequently;
  • customer satisfaction is linked to retention;
  • it’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones;
  • customers are willing to pay more when service is better than competition;
  • happy customers refer others; and
  • unhappy customers tell at least 10 others about their negative experience – who needs that kind of PR?

Seven Ways to Improve Customer Service:

  1. Get feedback. Encourage and welcome customer input about how you can improve. Provide a method and process to get constructive comments and suggestions. Customers can be your best advocate and are knowledgeable of competitors and what they do or don’t do well. Remember, you cannot fix or improve something if you don’t know it is broken.
  2. Treat employees well. Appreciation starts at the top. Your team will treat customers the way you treat your team. Do you greet them when you arrive? Do you thank them? Do you listen to their concerns and ideas? If you take care of your team, your team will take care of your customers.
  3. Document and handle customer complaints. No matter how good you are, things can and will go wrong. Identify the source of the top five to seven complaints (even if they only occur periodically) and develop a process to handle them. Don’t forget to include guidelines and limits of authority so your front-line employees can resolve the majority of complaints without going to the boss! Also, keep in mind, complaints that are handled well can actually build loyalty with customers.
  4. Measure and reward customer satisfaction. If customer satisfaction is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team and customers. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. And here’s another plus. If your ‘documented’ customer satisfaction levels are 95 percent or better – you now have a great message for use in marketing. It sure beats the “we deliver great service’ message so many businesses like to put out there!
  5. Train your team. Customer service skills, like technical or sales skills, can be developed and improved with training. While most businesses train new employees – existing team members need ongoing training and development too. In addition to better service, employee training is linked to improved employee retention and satisfaction – a big benefit in today’s competitive labour market.
  6. Document your critical systems and processes. Too often, the source of dissatisfaction or perceived poor quality is tied to your processes. Take a look at the processes – from initial contact through billing – and document what gets done. I guarantee you will find gaps in consistency and opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness. Documented systems put money on the bottom line by improving customer satisfaction and reducing re-works, returns or call-backs (a big satisfaction driver). 
  7. Set expectations. In marketing and sales, a ‘can do’ attitude is important – but only if you can deliver. Real success in business comes from delivering what you promise and doing it each and every time. So set the right expectations and remember the old saying – better to under promise and over deliver!
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